W.E.B. – Colosseum Review

W.E.B. Du Bois was not what I was led to believe them to be. The promo titling called them “Symphonic Metal,” which in my mind doesn’t extend to the extreme side of things. Upon sampling their new fifth installment, Colosseum, however, I came to realize I was misinformed. W.E.B. is perhaps one of the most extreme bands I’ve heard in the last two years that rightfully claim the symphonic metal tag. Then, upon sampling their back catalog after discovering these Greeks have been at it for nearly twenty years, I found myself disappointed that their music wasn’t particularly good. It was fine symphonic black metal, but nothing I would spend my money on.

Colosseum, on the other hand, is unstoppable. Its fervent desire to destroy is unmatched in intensity and infectiousness. Not only is this record particularly extreme for the symphonic metal genre, but it’s fucking fun, too. I don’t know what happened between 2017’s Tartarus and today, but whatever it was lit a blasphemous sacrificial fire beneath the asses of this quartet. Colosseum gushes drama, extremity and bloodthirst in equal parts, blasting and thrashing and spree-killing its way through all of thirty-eight minutes. Gleeful evil abounds, reveling in metallic debauchery and mischief, riffs wreaking havoc as would a freshly unleashed horde of demonic imps upon the Earth. Pummeling drums reinforce the army of bombast that surges forth, and throat-shredding screams emanate from what might be symphonic black/death metal’s most charismatic hype-man. Colosseum isn’t a one-trick pony either, offering a dynamic playthrough complete with demolishing bouts of speed and rejuvenating breaths of ritualistic recuperation.

Title track “Colosseum” and “Ensanguined” serve as the brightest highlights of the record, and in that role they exemplify everything that makes Colosseum such a substantial step up from W.E.B.‘s past works. Blistering, kit-bludgeoning blackened death metal bulldozes into my skull and mashes my defenseless brain into a worthless pulp, leaving only the spinal cord and pleasure center intact so that I might better revel in the infernal joy these songs bring. It’s just so much more energetic and unhinged than anything this band put out before, and I love to see it. Opener “Dark Web” similarly entertains, but it takes a more grandiose approach, mixing stomping orchestral hits with an infectious chorus shout. Even the closing instrumental “December 13th” scores points, offering some acoustics backing a somber lead guitar, which elicits a nice definitive aural ending to this vicious, bloody tale. The album ordering is fantastic as well, offering the most intense moments exactly where they deliver the heaviest impact, then moderating the pace afterwards to allow me a chance to lick my fatal wounds.

W.E.B. crafted a triumphant exercise in exactly how best to compose and arrange a stellar symphonic metal record. My main concern, then, is why the fuck they obliterated Colosseum in the production suite. Most of the tones from the guitars and the drums are good and fine, but the symphonics are largely gutless when competing with the metallic instrumentation. “Murder of Crows” is a good example of how W.E.B. took what could’ve been a huge song and diminished it by boxing it up in an unnecessarily compact digital cage. In some songs, I can hear clipping coming from the upright bass drum and tuba samples that thunder through the otherwise savage “Dominus Maleficarum” and “Pentalpha.” That fucking sucks, because were it not for Colosseum‘s hopelessly suffocated compression, that moment in particular would’ve been one of the most explosive pieces of extreme metal I’ve heard this year.

It’s only by the grace of awesome riffs and relentless energy that Colosseum earned the score you see below, because I find the album to be everything that’s wrong with how industry standards neuter otherwise feral symphonic records like this one. Audiences will otherwise rejoice in the sudden and inexplicable unleashment of this devastating tear through the symphosphere by a band who until now hadn’t shown such teeth. Make no mistake, these teeth are big. These teeth are sharp. These teeth belong to a set of jaws strong enough to crush hardened steel. And those jaws will bite. Hard.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label:  Metal Blade Records
Websites: webmetalband.com | facebook.com/webdarkness | webdarkmetal.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: October 15th, 2021

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